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Salford to be UK centre for Prosthetics & Orthotics

5th February 2019, 10:38 am

THE UNIVERSITY of Salford is to be the home for an £11m centre to train highly-skilled prosthetists and orthotists for the UK and internationally.

Worldwide demand for artificial limbs, braces, footwear and other devices which help people recover from injury is mushrooming, but the people who make, fit and monitor prosthetics require a rare combination of clinical, medical and engineering skills.

The brand new centre is set to train 60 individuals to doctoral level, coordinate new Master’s courses and lead research to address the skills gap at home and abroad, particularly in low and middle-income countries such as Cambodia, Uganda and Jordan.

The £11million project, funded by the EPSRC (Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council) unites 27 industry and clinical partners, including two of the largest manufacturers of prosthetic and orthotic devices, Blatchford and Össur.

Led by the University of Salford, the partnership brings together both UK undergraduate training centres (Salford and Strathclyde) with research teams at Imperial College London, the University of Southampton, and Northwestern University in the US, the global leader in research in the field.

Woeful shortage

“There has been a healthy growth in the number of UK undergraduates studying prosthetics and orthotics and there is thus a growing need for doctorally-qualified leaders in the sector to support this growth,” explained centre lead Malcolm Granat, Professor of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Salford.

“Presently there is a woeful shortage of research engineers who have a deep understanding of these challenges. Our expectation is that this new centre will create a talented workforce, who will be equipped to produce local and global solutions to transform lives.”

Students will be supported by national and global industry, and clinical, patient and service partnerships, who will ensure high-quality training, and provide placement and employment opportunities. Many are expected to be graduates in Engineering with others coming from industry and some from clinical backgrounds.

The majority of students will come from the UK, but the centre will support training for students from low and middle-income countries.

The World Health Organisation estimates 100 million people globally need prosthetic or orthotic services and as populations age, more than two billion people are expected to require health-related assistive devices by 2030.

In the UK, the Disabled Living Foundation estimates that 6.5million people live with mobility disablement, while in parts of the developing world, and often in the aftermath of conflict, there is a growing global need for prosthetics and orthotics support.

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